Katharine Shilcutt's 10 Favorite Dishes in Houston

Categories: Top 10

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Photo by Troy Fields
7. Crawfish pho at LA Crawfish

To eat at LA Crawfish is to experience a microcosm of Houston's great bounty of ethnic cuisines and its friendly, energetic, welcoming charm. Cozy up to the table next to you and start a conversation; let a stranger who knows a trick show you the best way to crack into a king crab leg; spot a few friends across the food court and form a super-table to enjoy your bounty together. This is the kind of dining that LA Crawfish encourages.

It also offers a far wider variety of food than just crawfish. Here, American and Cajun and Vietnamese and Chinese and even Thai all flow together in one jumble of LA Crawfish-brand cuisine. It's as natural a development as Malaysian cuisine, in which the southeast Asian country functions as a crossroads among Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and more and has adopted all the best foods from each culture over the years.

Houston functions in much the same way these days, and second-generation immigrants like the young faces who run LA Crawfish think nothing of co-opting a Chinese five-spice blend or Thai tamarind sauce for their Hong Kong-style crispy chicken wings, or of putting Cajun andouille sausage and crawfish tails into pho.

If regular pho can be compared to a dark roux, thick with the complex, jostling flavors of a handful of various spices -- musky cloves and bitter anise and briny fish sauce -- the crawfish pho broth is its blond sister. It's subtle and graceful, a delicate broth to match the delicate seafood inside. The sweet tail meat of the crawfish is enhanced instead of overshadowed, as it absolutely would be in a heavier, beefier broth. Coins of andouille sausage bobbing in the broth serve to underscore this flavor, the pork adding its own zip of vivid spice while still keeping things light.

I am convinced that this crawfish pho is one of an increasing number of reasons I can never leave Houston. Would I ever be able to find this again anywhere else? Even re-create it at home? Unlikely. I could definitely replicate the boiled crawfish, but never the pho.


Location Info

Venue

Map

Hobbit Cafe

2243 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Roost

1972 Fairview St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Bismillah Restaurant

5696 Hillcroft St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

LA Crawfish

1005 Blalock, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Teotihuacan Mexican Cafe

1511 Airline, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Spanish Village

4720 Almeda, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Thanh Phuong

3236 E. Broadway, Pearland, TX

Category: Restaurant

Oxheart

1302 Nance St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Gerardo's Drive-In Grocery

609 Patton St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Rainbow Lodge

2011 Ella Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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24 comments
texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

ahhhh, the #31 @ Spanish Village never lets me down....

adricas35
adricas35

Really good list! You'll be missed! Also, Sammy's WIld Game Grill Camel Burger and the Pheasant hot dog are to die for...so yummy. I've never thought that I would say "yummy" and "Camel" together lol

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

The one dish I emplore everyone to try, especially due to their departure in June, is the Scallops St. Jacques at Feast.  Truly one of the best dishes I've had in the past decade.  A very simple and decadent dish.  All it is comprised of is Scallops, mushrooms, Brandy and cream sauce.  

Don't miss getting to try this before it leaves!

BobbyFreshpants
BobbyFreshpants topcommenter

No mention of La Macro? I thought you would have given them an honorable mention

HTownChowDown
HTownChowDown

Excellent list, Katharine. You're going to be missed here. Thank you for so many fantastic articles.

Loona_c
Loona_c

I choose the Gandalf at Hobbit Hole instead!  And I don't get the love for Spanish Village.  I know they are beloved by so many, but the margarita was melted and bitter, the chips were thick and chewy and the food overpriced and meh.

But others on the list sound interesting!

eudemonist
eudemonist

Thanks for all the good stuff in your time here, Katherine!  Found some great food because of this column.

Brazos
Brazos

Loved reading your articles. You'll be missed. 

I used to go the the Hobbit Hole back in the 80's as well. Thanks for  the trip back in time.

 Oh and thanks so much for the article on the lobster roll at Maine-ly Sandwiches.  It's a drive for me but worth every nickel. Their bread is perfect.

kagan34
kagan34

Some good stuff on here...gotta try it! You've done a remarkable and memorable job, and I will join in your farewell ceremony tomorrow when they cast your handprints in the cement adjacent to the Houston Press building.

conebaby
conebaby topcommenter

Great list--just totally rearranged my "top 10" (Urban Swank gals inspired me to get list-y with my must-trys) as a result. Good luck, Katharine!

ekhilton
ekhilton

Madame: you are so tremendously good at what you do. Thank you for all the education, enlightenment and insight.  I'll be following you still and wish you the best.

Houstess
Houstess

Nice list.  But I wish you had chosen a different format for your penultimate day.  It took forever to look at each page.

stgeorge4
stgeorge4

katharine...is the snapper at teotihuacan boneless?

mgaspard
mgaspard

This is a great list, congrats on the new gig!

VStilton2
VStilton2

@FattyFatBastard  

Sounds delicious! One of the best dishes I've had at Feast is something I rarely order at a restaurant: chicken. Theirs is truly amazing, roasted and served with a velvety sauce that's spiked with Pernod or Ricard, something anise scented anyway. Nearly as tasty as your Chinese Cottage Cheese I should think.

J.A.Justice
J.A.Justice

@Houstess No shit right?  Stop giving us actual content and information and just shovel a pointless useless list into our faces!  Reading is for idiots!

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